Wewak Mission

Discussion in 'Books and Films' started by Cobber, May 19, 2009.

  1. Cobber

    Cobber New Member

    I have just finished Wewak Mission, Coast Watchers at War in New Guinea.
    Lionel Veale
    (Mention In Dispatches)

    This book is one i couldn't put down, I'd expect it would be a great read for anyone from any country.

    Lionel Veale was a original member of 1st Independent Company, later renamed Cavalry Commando Squadrons.
    These Company's had approx 270 Officers and OR's, set up in Ptns and Sections each with many more men than a standard Infantry Ptn or Section. The 1st Independent was sent to Kavieng in New Ireland, lucky for Veale and his Section,they were then sent South to Villa in the New Hebrides. As his Company was taken POW along with the remnants of the 2/22nd AIF Btn in Rabaul.
    Later in early 1942 Veale while in Melbourne was approached by a LT asking for volunteers to go behind enemy lines and find out the fate of 1st Independent Coy. He of course volunteered, however it was a ruse, the LT was looking for trained men with the fortitude to go behind enemy lines and do the impossible. Veale found himself under command of Allied Intelligence Bureau, and ultimatly 'M' "Force".
    Veale worked several missions with the Coast Watchers, when in Jan 1943 he was approached for a very dangerous mission, he volunteered and with three others one being a old PNG hand a patrol man aged 45+, this man was to lead the mission. Though three being LT's, some honorary for duration etc, One who earned it with AIF and in action against all three enemy's, Veale a Sgt (AIF) the leader decided rank would count for nothing what so ever and they were from that moment a very close and highly competent Team.
    The mission was to fly to the upper reaches of the Sepik River, not far from the border, and with the help of friendly natives go down the river to Wewak where they would do their work. They were at minimum 400 miles from nearest Aussie or allied troops, There were still head hunters this far west in PNG.
    Many of the Natives had lost all respect for white men as they had seen them run away from the Japanese, and many used this to go back to head hunting and many other things that had all but been removed by missionaries and the Govts of firstly Germany and then from 1914/1919 Australia. The Japanese used this to there advantage, including the Garamut drums used by the natives to talk long distance, the Japanese used bribery and Violence to get info from the natives and several willingly joined and became extremely violent people with the IJA blessing.
    Luckily there were still some natives who were pro Aussie, the four Coast watchers made it down to the Wewak area, with many trials and tribulations with unfriendly natives and a river flowing with a rage and large whirlpools, it took them four days. Unknown to them their reserve supplies which were being guarded by faithful natives was raided by unfriendlies and all was taken or destroyed. The job was to get as much info about Wewak as the Allies had nothing. From their layup they could see much of the happenings, and saw bomber after bomber land and then moved by tractor into the jungle along with other equipment. They needed a close up so Veale and another went in and eyeballed Wewak, the airfield and aircraft were expertly camouflaged,along with much munitions and supplies, under the tall trees of the jungle the lower plants had been cleared, and the normal plane hanger with sand on three sides were all sitting out around part of airfield that was visable to allied A/C who saw no planes at Wewak that the IJA didnot want them to see.,The men finally coded and radioed with their dry battery radio, no more sixteen plus carriers for your radio, a petrol engine and car battery to run radio, one man could carry it., Moresby got the message, and sent in a air raid, Moresby could not warn the men due to IJA possibly getting wind of raid. The air raid was a outstanding success.
    Due to it being as close to a pin point strike you could in 1943, on the highly camo'd Bombers and equipments under the canopy the Japanese now knew their were Aussies in the area. This was confirmed by natives, and the hunt had now began. The Aussies went very hard at getting as much space between them and the IJA hopefully at times with help from Friendly natives. They after numerous days of travel through mangrove swamps, putrid swamps, and god knows what else swamps, and Crocs one smashing Veale with its tail buggering his back for a while, he shot it from point blank with a Sten,then finally feeling confident enough to move back in to the forest/jungle and try and head inland,thinking you are at least a day maybe more ahead of your hunters, they eventually got to a village whose chief came across as very friendly and the women and kids were out this allways meant all was Ok. The chief had said the IJA was a Days march away and gave them a hut to sleep in and piled the food on. The Chief then had sent a message to the IJA Ptn that had been tasked with capturing the Aussies pref alive though dead was fine, and had been tracking them with the help of a mad native who scared most other natives due to his brutality that the Aussies were there in the village in X hut, the IJA Ptn were only two or three hours away, now they did have some lucky breaks in finding the trail from time to time. While coding the message and relaxing, one Aussie looked up and saw a IJA soldier moving into position, that was it, the Aussie weapons were well out of reach, only one had his shoes on and none had shirts. they bolted out the window as the IJA Ptn stormed the building firing wildly,one "M Force" gent got separated, they thought he was dead but that was the IJA shooting all natives who had helped the Australians.
    At another Village the Chief a friend hid the three men in the ceiling of the initiation hut, and when the IJA arrived actually started initiating the youngsters, no white men were allowed to see this however these three had a view like no other. The IJA soldier did not hang around
    Days of moving through thick jungle, swamps mangroves and more unfriendly natives, no food and putrid water they finally on their last gasp made it to a "German Missionary who had helped them with natives earlier, he now saved their lives and sent his native friend Joesph to take the very long possibly hundreds of miles journey from Sepik River area via rivers etc to get the message to some one who could send it on to Moresby who arranged for a Catalina to be flown, For Young Joesph it was a quest that he passed, comming into contact with the IJA Ptn on a river, luckily the mad native did not recognise him from the time when Joe went in as a spy as a carrier for the IJA to collect info, a very brave lad this one also went across the jungles, swamps, mangroves and the IJA and wild natives eventually Joesph got his message sent on to Morseby and a Catalina was found ready to fly very quickly and they were taken out,the priest although told to leave for a while refused he stayed and was murdered for helping the Australians.
  2. spidge

    spidge Active Member

  3. Antipodean Andy

    Antipodean Andy New Member

  4. Cobber

    Cobber New Member

    Remember guys these four men went up there in early 1943, the extended beach head battles were still forging red hot. So had absolute no possibility of quick or any support.
    The only people who knew they are out their are two officers in Moresby, one Commander Feldt the CO of Coast watchers the other a Capt another spook, an old New Guinea hand.
    They did not see any Indian POW's however the Japanese were interning (taking prisoner) missionaries, and the majority of missionaries seem to be of German Blood and up bringing, it did not matter that they were meant to be Allies, the missionarie's didn't like the IJA due to its brutality towards all peoples but especially natives.
    These prisoners included a family minus father, unfortaunatly they could do nothing,they made morseby aware when the returned , by then the IJA could of transported them anywhere.
  5. spidge

    spidge Active Member

    Hi Cobber,

    Please do not think that I was lessening their feat, I was only giving other forum members a glimpse of what was going on up there later in the war.

    I have pushed the work of Australian, New Zealand and British Coast Watchers on other forums as many in Europe had not heard of the deeds of these brave men.

    And he would know!
  6. Cobber

    Cobber New Member

    Spidge man no worrie's all's cool.
    I was just pointing the thread back towatrds the Wewak and this amazing mission all done in early 1943.

    The deeds of the troops later in the taking of Wewak were amazing the mighty 6th, IMHO many 1945 Australian (Excepting Borneo/Brunei) battles were futile just Generals out to make a name for themselves.

    For any that are interested Commander Eric Feldt RAN was CO of Coast Watchers. He wrote a book called (what else) Ferdinand and gives as much info as he can. It's hard to place a nationality on many of the non "M" Force (troops under Army command while in Aust) coast watchers, as most of them had come from far and wide and spent many years in the wilds of the PNG, Bouganville, and all the islands and had friendships with the natives and new the territory. Since there are so many islands on the way to Guadalcanal in ths Solomon's that with a good sprinkle of men covering All land planes routes and many ships. They could contact Hawaii who passed it on, (seems melb were listening in all hush hush) to the Carriers who scrambled the planes who then kick but. Once the war moved on from these groups of islands many Coast watchers moved on and went Reg Army etc as their was limited need for caost watchers in these areas. And once they moved closer to Indonesia (Dutch east Indies) these men were no longer needed, of course 'M' Force kept operating as did "Z" Force, but the Coast Watchers were by then a side point in the history of WW2, though some Coast watching work was done around Rabaul New Britian and the close by Islands etc as the IJA still occupied them,most from this era and areas were Australian and the vast majority of all coast watchers were Aussies, though others gave grand sevice .They gave at the height of the Guadacanal Campaign the Allied Fleet a Maximum of about 3 hours and minimum was 30 minutes and over open air waves if need be.
  7. Antipodean Andy

    Antipodean Andy New Member

    Got his The Coastwatchers on the shelf and will read it eventually.
  8. Cobber

    Cobber New Member

    Read it mate, it will tell you things you never imagined.

  9. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

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